Sticky Session

In a load balanced server application where user information is stored in the session, it will be required to keep the session data available to all machines. This can be avoided by always serving a particular user session request from one machine.

The machine is associated with a session as soon as the session is created. All the requests in a particular session are always redirected to the associated machine. This ensures the user data is only at one machine and load is also shared.

In the Java world, this is typically done by using a jsessionid cookie. The cookie is sent to the client for the first request and every subsequent request by a client must be containing that same cookie to identify the session.

There are few issues that you may face with this approach

  • The client browser may not support cookies, and your load balancer will not be able to identify if a request belongs to a session. This may cause strange behavior for users who use no cookie based browsers.
  • In case one of the machines fails or goes down, the user information (served by that machine) will be lost and there will be no way to recover user session.